Thank You for Smoking

Thank You for Smoking movie poster
MPAA rating: R
Genre: Comedy
Jason Reitman directs this satire about a tobacco lobbyist (Aaron Eckhart) trying to balance his work with his desire to be a role model for his son.
Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Maria Bello, Cameron Bright, Adam Brody, Sam Elliott, Katie Holmes, David Koechner, William H. Macy, Rob Lowe, Robert Duvall, Dennis Miller
Director: Jason Reitman
Running time: 1:32
Release: Opened Mar 17, 2006
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Editorial Review

As a lobbyist for the tobacco industry, Nick Naylor realizes that disingenuousness -- that cardinal virtue of the Washington insider -- is a moral survival strategy: Don't think of cigarettes as a health hazard, Nick tells appalled audiences and hostile fellow panelists on the talk show circuit. Consider them a symbol of America's right to choose.

As played with devilish charm by Aaron Eckhart in "Thank You for Smoking," Nick knows what he's talking about. After all, he works for the Academy of Tobacco Studies, a research institution that, so far, has found nothing to corroborate those wild claims that smoking causes, you know. So what if the tobacco companies are funding the academy -- don't they have a right to be concerned about public health, too?

Watching Nick get away with murder is the wicked fun of "Smoking," an adaptation of Christopher Buckley's 1994 novel. It's too bad there isn't more of it. As a satire on Tobacco Inc.'s outrageous ability to market carbon monoxide as the elixir of life, this movie should be packing more nicotine.

Unfortunately, as written and directed by Jason Reitman (see In Focus on Page 29), "Smoking" is filtered too heavily with moral redemption. Nick may be an amiable slimeball who bends the truth for Joe Camel, for instance, but it's just a matter of time before he faces up to the life lessons he's offering his 12-year-old son, Joey (Cameron Bright). The movie's underlying commentary -- that Nick's self-termed "moral flexibility" is part and parcel of Washington's everyday business -- is hardly earth-shattering news.

-- Desson Thomson

Contains profanity and some sexual content.